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Queensland subsidises hot water PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 09 April 2009 08:28

Queensland has set an impressive target on solar hot water, putting together a scheme that provides systems, fully installed to homeowners for $500 ($100 for pensioners)

Its to be hoped its done better than previous efforts, there are some really good people in Queensland government, committed to sustainability, but as their is a pretty bad track-record in Queensland of great ideas ending up looking less than great by the time they get through the layers of drafting.

Their was a Solar PV bulk-buy a few years ago, for a 1000 systems, but the amount of bureaucracy built into the project meant that the company I was working with would have had to add $500 to $1000 to its price to handle it, i.e. the bulk purchase would have costed MORE than our standard price. Also by bulking it up in one go, rather than allowing competing tenderers to carve it up, it prevented smaller companies from participating as you had to take all 1000 (from Fraser Island to Gold Coast - about 400km)

Then there was a solar feed-in-tarif, that as announced promised a Gross Feed-In-Tariff, that would have boosted solar installations in Queensland, but got converted by the Department of Mines and Energy into a Net Feed-In which does almost nothing. See what I wrote at the time., and what the government's own report says. This is even more significant now that the Federal government has halved the support for solar PV from $8000 for a 1kw system to about $4000

The current scheme promises 200,000 systems (about twice the current install rate of 90,000 a year, largely driven by replacing old broken systems).

Its received flack from existing manufacturers, though that is often misplaced as we've seen with Solar PV, and there are a lot of inefficiencies in the current sales-pipeline.

A more valid criticism is that pre-announcing the scheme in effect puts all current installations on hold, as consumers wait for the scheme to start. This story has been picked up by the Courier Mail, and isn't helped by there being rumors in the press, and election promises, but nothing that I can find on Queensland government websites to clarify things.

To confuse things, from the customer point of view, there is a separate rebate of $400 in Brisbane, a current $750 state rebate, and a $1600 federal rebate, and almost none of the web sites covering this line them all up or are up to date.

I would suggest the best way to tackle this would be to post a target price, pool the customers, and allow tenders from companies that can meet that price. Then - and most importantly - keep the bureaucracy down to a minimum, unlike last time.

This could still be done as a tender, just allow losing tenderers to match the winner's price, which would allow companies with for example a narrower geographic reach to participate.